We have booked our wedding at the number one rated wedding venue in Chicago. How did we get a prime date in the venue’s busiest season with only a little more than a year’s notice? Let me tell you.
The best way to book your dream venue is to pick the venue BEFORE you pick your wedding date.
To me, this seemed like the most common sense thing. But strangely, ever since Lars and I got engaged, the first question people ask is: when is the wedding? And every venue inquiry asks you for your wedding date.
Well, in these modern consumerist times, the great wedding venues book up a year or more in advance. Lars and I figured if we plan the wedding for next fall we would have enough time to get everything done. Well, I hit the ground running looking into venues. I knew how quickly they book up.
And even though I knew venues book quickly, the competition for Saturday night events was even stiffer than I thought! Man, everyone wants to have a beautiful wedding. Who knew? I looked into about 15 venues and most of them had at least half the Saturday nights in September and October 2015 booked, and even more on hold.
So, the best way for you to make sure you get your ABSOLUTE dream venue, you have to have a flexible date! If we had committed to October 3rd, which I thought was the best date, we wouldn’t have been able to have our wedding at ANY of the venues we looked at. Apparently a lot of couples thought that was a great date.
With every venue I toured, I told them our ideal dates but let them know our date was completely flexible. First of all, this makes you seem easier to work with. Second of all, they don’t assume you won’t want to come look at the venue if your date is booked.
Besides having a flexible date, another important thing to consider for booking your dream venue is making a good impression. I know most people don’t have as flexible a schedule as me, but you should make a list of at least your top 3 venues and make a point to see them in person. If you can, meet with the person in charge of weddings at that venue. If you can’t see the venue when they are available, go see it outside of business hours and ask all your questions over the phone. You won’t be able to decide your dream venue if you don’t see it in person. The exception to this, of course, is if you are having a destination wedding.
I made a point that I wanted to make a good impression at each of my venue tours. It may not seem important, but if they like you they will go that extra mile to make sure you can book there (which was the case for us!). I dressed business casual for each of my tours and came prepared with a list of questions and a pen. Be on time (shoot to be 10 minutes early if you can), and be open, friendly, and polite.
If you are having trouble figuring out what you want out of a venue, head over to pinterest! I found several of my venues on pinterest either through photographer’s websites or articles on the best wedding venues in Chicago. If you aren’t at that step yet, just look at the wedding section and pin what you like to get an idea of your style. Make sure you aren’t wasting your time at any of the venues you tour.
I also set myself a date by which I wanted to make a decision, which worked in our favor. There are so many amazing venues in our area and I could have kept touring venues for months if I had let myself. I told myself when I was going to decide and I stuck to it. Luckily, Lars and I were in agreement on which venues we liked best, so that made it easier! If I had waited longer and toured more places my decision would have been more difficult and less dates would have been available.
So, in summary, if you want to book your dream wedding venue you should:
- Get an idea of your style on pinterest
- Make a list of your top venues and tour them if possible
- Be flexible with your wedding date
- Be prepared for your appointments
- Make a good impression by dressing professionally, being on time, and being friendly and polite
- Set yourself a date by which you want to make a decision so you don’t fall victim to procrastination and lose out on a venue!
On a final note, none of this will work if you don’t give yourself enough time. If you only give yourself a few months to plan your wedding most venues will be booked. Give yourself a year, and you should be able to find the perfect place for you!
Do you have any other tips for how to get your dream venue? Let me know in the comments!